What’s there in a shirt cuff for men? Plenty. There’s style and elegance to the cuff. That’s the reason why James Bond, one of the nattiest dressers on screen, took trouble with his cuffs.
What are the different types of cuffs? When do you wear which? How do you wear them? Here are answers to these frequently asked questions.There are three broad varieties of cuffs – Button Cuffs, French Cuffs and Turn Back Cuffs. If we include Convertible Cuffs, which are nothing but a combination of the Button and French Cuffs, it would be four.
These are the most commonly used cuffs. A Double Button Cuff, also called Barrel Cuff has two vertical buttons and the fabric is stiffer than that of the shirt. Then there are the Single Button Cuffs. These come either with a single button or with two horizontal buttons which help you adjust the width of the cuff to suit your wrist size. Those with watches may want to have it a notch wider than those who don’t.Another question that often comes up with button cuffs is, should you have square-cornered cuffs, rounded or hexagon-cornered cuffs. Square ones carry more style, but are prone to damaged corners. Rounded cuffs are not at the same style level as the square ones, but last longer. Hexagon is the middle ground where they carry some of the square’s style, but are slightly longer lasting. But be warned, the margin is not that much higher.When do I wear them?Button cuffs are essential for all formal occasions. On a scale of highly formal to less formal, they rest on the less formal side in comparison to French Cuffs. Among button cuffs themselves, Double Button cuffs are considered dressier than the single button variety. Take out your button cuff shirts if you are at the junior to middle executive positions, when you have semi-formal meetings, say with dealers or sales meetings.
French Cuffs, also known as Double Cuffs are ones where the cuff folds backward. You would bind them with cuff links or silk knots with both the vertical line edges pointing outwards. They don’t overlap the way button cuffs do. Sometimes, the cuff is white in color to contrast with the shirt. And if the cuffs are white, so will the collar be.
French Cuffs can be square-cornered or round-cornered. As a general rule, we would advise you to have square-cornered cuffs since they have a more elegant look about them. Since the cuff is turned backwards, you don’t have to worry about frayed corners. We’d advise round corners only if you really like the color or texture of the shirt.
When do I wear them?
Generally, French Cuffs are considered more formal than Button Cuffs. Wear them if you are in a senior executive position and in formal meetings with external personnel.
Turn Back Cuffs
Also called Angle Cuffs, it isn’t easy to get these cuffs with just the right look. They have double buttons vertically lined and the corners are buttoned down too. Not all tailors or ready-to-wear shirts get them right. Sean Connery had popularized them in the James Bond film, Dr.No (although we are showing an image of Roger Moore for a clearer visual of the Turn Back Cuff). Since we don’t have 007’s tailor, buy Turn Back cuffs only if you are absolutely sure you’ve got them right. They shouldn’t look like they are a buttoned shirt with no tie in between.
When do I wear them?
We’d advise a semi-formal occasion for these cuffs. Treat them on par with Button Cuffs and when you are feeling slightly more adventurous.
Buy shirts with Convertible Cuffs if you want to have the flexibility of Button and French Cuffs. You could remove the button when using the cufflinks. But in certain postures, the button remains visible, spoiling the effect. Since French Cuffs do not overlap over the other, they are slightly smaller in width than Button Cuffs, so there could be trouble with the width too. So try it both ways – buttoned and cufflinked – before you actually buy a shirt with Convertible Cuffs.
The standard rule for any type of cuff is that it should never ride above the wrist. A good way to test is to bend your arm and make sure that the cuff stays at the wrist. When wearing a suit, a quarter inch of the cuff showing out is ideal. The French Cuffed shirt can show more than that – about a three quarter inch. This basic rule will help you beat the cuffs at their game.